6 Signs That Your Ductwork Needs to Be Replaced

Ductwork is an essential part of any forced-air heating and cooling system. It is also the one part of an HVAC system that people tend to pay the least attention to. Old, damaged, or leaking ductwork can lead to numerous issues with both your heating and air conditioning and can often make it nearly impossible for you to ever keep your home sufficiently heated or cooled. As a result, it is always a good idea to have your ducts inspected every year or two to ensure that they are still in good shape. You should also watch out for any of these signs that can indicate that your ductwork needs to be either repaired or replaced.

1. Age

As with most other things, your ductwork will slowly start to deteriorate as it ages. Ductwork typically has a maximum life expectancy of around 20 to 25 years and will often begin to suffer from more and more issues after 15 years or so. This is why we always recommend to our customers that they have their ductwork replaced every 15 to 20 years.

If your ductwork is only 10 or so years old, it is definitely possible to repair any damage or reseal it to prevent leaks. However, it typically never makes sense to repair older ductwork as it will continue to deteriorate and quickly start to suffer from various issues again. If the ductwork is too old, no amount of repairing or resealing will ever be able to fully overcome these issues.

2. Whistling Noises

One surefire sign that your ductwork has issues is if you hear a loud whistling noise coming from the ducts themselves or your vents whenever your heating or air conditioning runs. These whistling noises indicate that there are holes or air leaks somewhere in the ductwork system. If your ducts are damaged or not properly sealed, the HVAC blower will force air out through any gaps or holes, and this air escaping will produce a loud whistling sound.

Depending on the age and overall condition of your ductwork, this issue may be able to be repaired by resealing or repairing the ducts. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may be possible to replace just some parts of the duct system. However, if your ductwork is nearing the end of its lifespan or is in poor condition, it is generally always best to replace the entire duct system all at once.

3. Hot and Cold Spots

Damaged or leaking ducts will also frequently lead to uneven heating or cooling and result in some parts of the home constantly staying much hotter or colder. Any leaks will change the pressure inside the duct system and make it much more difficult for the HVAC blower to circulate air to every room. Leaks can also result in much of the hot or cold air escaping before it can be circulated into every room. As a result of these two issues, you will often end up with those rooms that are at the furthest ends of the duct system remaining much colder during the winter and hotter during the summer since they aren’t receiving enough air.

Hot and cold spots can potentially be fixed by repairing the damaged ducts, but again, this typically only ever makes sense if the ductwork is less than 15 years old. If you do notice issues with hot and cold spots in your home, it is important that you have a certified technician inspect your entire HVAC system as this problem could also be related to your furnace or air conditioner and not your ductwork.

4. Ineffective Heating and Cooling

The more air that escapes out of your ductwork, the more difficult it will be for your HVAC system to properly regulate your home’s temperature. Duct issues can drastically limit the effectiveness of your heating and cooling. If your ducts are in bad shape, it will often result in your heating and air conditioning needing to run for much longer periods in order to fully warm or cool the building.

If you ever notice that your HVAC system seems to run almost constantly and your home still feels too warm in the summer or too cold in the winter, you will want to have a technician inspect both your ductwork and your HVAC units to determine the specific cause. If the technician determines the issue is related to your ductwork, you will then need to have it either repaired or completely replaced depending on its age and condition.

5. High Energy Costs

The fact that damaged or leaking ductwork will force your HVAC system to work harder and run longer means that it will also lead to higher heating and cooling costs. As a result, this is another thing that you should always watch out for. If your energy costs are slowly increasing from month to month and year to year, it indicates that there are issues with either your ductwork or your HVAC units. A sudden spike in your energy costs from one month to the next usually indicates a problem with an HVAC unit, but it could also be a sign that your ducts have suddenly sagged or developed a large air leak.

If the problem only occurs during the summer or winter, then it likely means that your furnace or air conditioner needs to be repaired or maintained. However, if the problem persists throughout the entire year, then it is a good sign that you need to have your ductwork resealed, repaired, or replaced.

6. Moldy or Musty Smells

Moldy or musty smells coming from your vents can be extremely unpleasant and is usually a sign that there is mold, mildew, or debris inside your ducts. This is one problem that can easily be avoided by having your ducts professionally cleaned every few years.

The only issue is that duct cleaning requires creating negative pressure inside the ductwork so that all of the debris can be sucked out, and this simply isn’t possible if your ducts have major leaks or are in poor shape. As a result, it is often necessary to have the ducts repaired or resealed before they can be cleaned. If the ductwork is old or in poor condition, you are generally always best off simply having it replaced since this will both eliminate the odors and ensure that there are no other duct issues.

Expert Ductwork and HVAC Services

If you suspect that you have any ductwork issues, you can count on the team at A/C Doctors to help. We specialize in ductwork repairs, resealing, and replacement, and we can also assist with new ductwork design and installation. Our team can also assist with any of your heating, cooling, and indoor air quality needs. We offer professional repair, installation, and maintenance services, and we work on air conditioners, ductless mini-splits, heat pumps, gas furnaces, and electric furnaces. We install and maintain air handlers, condensers, packaged units, and VRV HVAC units as well. If you need any residential or commercial HVAC service in the Gilbert area, contact the experts at A/C Doctors today.

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